“Clean your plate, there are children starving [somewhere].”
That saying is problematic, partly because it guilts us into overeating. But a burgeoning non-profit called Halfsies has a better idea. At participating restaurants, customers can select a Halfsies version of a dish, giving them less food and ensuring that the value of the unserved half goes to hungry.
It will take a little bit to get ramped up, but Halfsies has the potential to reduce food waste, feed the hungry and keep us from overeating (protecting us from both massive portions and ourselves, when we keep eating even though we’re full.) You can hit three birds with one word.
As you can see in the PDF explaining the idea, I’m a big fan. But I can definitely see Halfsies succeeding. It’s catchy enough to imagine “I’ll go halfsies on that” entering the lexicon. And it’s high time someone tackled restaurant portion size.
Now all we need is one savvy and/or benevolent restaurant chain to be the first to sign up. Any takers??
October 26, 2011 | Posted in General|Comments closed
Six years ago, I went gleaning for the first time, gathering sweet potatoes in rural North Carolina.
A year ago, I went through a brief training so as to coordinate future gleaning outings.
Yesterday, I got to supervise one such outing–gleaning sweet potatoes, of course (it is North Carolina). The volunteers were mostly a troupe of girl scouts, who got a valuable lesson in where their food comes from and how much of it is regularly wasted.
The arithmetic looked like this: 20 people + 2 hours = 600 lbs. of sweet potatoes recovered (as pictured). While we worked for a little more than two hours, we could have gleaned that field for two weeks and still found more sweet potatoes.
I highly recommend volunteering with a gleaning operation (SOSA is a large one). In my mind, there’s no better way to honor the spirit of Food Day than by rescuing food that would otherwise be plowed under and get it to those in need.
In the wake of recent disasters, the Mississippi Gulf Coast communities came together to create a plan for sustainability. One aspect of the plan centers on food and one particular document provides a Recipe for a Sustainable Coast.
That study, much to my delight, lists the amount of wasted food as a major obstacle to sustainability. The report notes the juxtaposition of “a significant amount of edible food waste that is sent to landfills” with 17% of citizens being food insecure.
To address that incongruity, the report recommends creating a Food Waste Task Force to push diversion. That term includes promoting food recovery and composting to recover food’s nutrients, among other things.
The report also pushes for school gardens to teach children where their food comes from. And then there’s the suggestion of building regional meat and seafood processing plants, both of which could create energy from the waste byproducts they create.
The report is definitely worth a read, if for no other reason than to see how beneficial a regional food system can be. And when that plan incorporates food waste diversion, it’s all the more heartening.
In case you missed it, there was a fabulous op-ed in Friday’s Times. Its two authors looked at global food waste and characterized it as an opportunity to feed the 925 million undernourished people on this earth.
The authors do a nice job conveying the scale of our waste. But it also gets beyond the numbers, illustrating many of the reasons behind the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted worldwide.
We often discuss the reasons behind waste in the developed world–much of it comes down to consumer behavior and cheap food. On the other hand…
The issue is different in the developing world. Some 35 to 45 percent of the food produced is also lost there every year, but typically well before the supplies even reach buyers….India, the world’s second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables, loses about 40 percent of that production because of mismanagement, inadequate infrastructure and storage, poor transportation, shoddy supply-chain logistics, and underdeveloped markets.
The op-ed is a well-written call for action that will no doubt raise awareness on food waste. Give it a read and pass it on!
That’s the percentage of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions stemming from wasted food, according to CleanMetrics. It’s not a massive figure, but consider this: The average person’s food waste contributes almost 5 percent of the emissions of the typical car.
And 1.5 percent is a conservative estimate, as it doesn’t include restaurant waste. So add that environmental reason to reduce food waste to the existing list of ethical and economic ones.
But, wait–there’s more bad news! We individuals do not have as much agency as I’d hoped:
And by the time the food has reached you, the consumer, a lot of those emissions are already on their way to the atmosphere. Venkat says that nearly 80 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from producing and processing food.
Anyway, it’s quite helpful to have an estimate of food waste-related greenhouse gas emissions. If nothing else, it communicates that our waste impacts the environment.
Photographer Christopher Breimhurst worked in the food industry for 10 years, including some time at supermarkets. In his current work, Edibles, he finds the beauty in “unmarketable produce.”
Instead of throwing these fruits and veggies out, Breimhurst photographed them to illustrate their remaining usefulness. As he puts it:
The rejected food is typically destined for the waste pile. But in a majority of cases they can still be used. Which is what I did. At the end of my workday I snatched the rejects and brought them into my studio to capture their good sides and make them appealing once more.